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From the streets of Portland, a powerful memoir of love, family and redemption

With his mother’s help, Ed Crockett survived a sometimes harrowing boyhood. “She is my hero. I would not be here without her.”

PORTLAND, Maine — A writer rarely goes wrong by drawing in the reader right from the start with a strong lead. Ed Crockett gets the job done in his new memoir, “The Ghosts of Walter Crockett.”

“The first line of his obituary in the Portland Press Herald proclaimed my father, Walter Crockett, ‘the biggest drunk in Portland,’” Crockett writes on the opening page. “It was right there in black and white. Of course, I didn’t need to see it in print to know the truth. I lived it. It haunted me my whole life.”

Crockett grew up on Munjoy Hill in Portland in the 1960s and ‘70s, the youngest of eight children in what was then a tough, working-class neighborhood. His father, Walter, was caught in the grip of alcoholism, living on the streets of the city for 17 years. His mother raised the kids by herself.

“She is my hero,” Crockett said with emotion. “I would not be here today sharing the story without her. She sacrificed everything. She was the most selfless person I’ve ever known. Everything was for her kids.”

That Crockett’s father somehow clung to life during nearly two decades on the street is remarkable. 

“It’s a miracle that he survived,” Crockett said. “I mean, he had his last rites five times.”

After trying and failing countless times to get sober, Walter Crockett eventually stopped drinking. 

“I was proud of him,” Ed said. “He was finally able to have a life.”

Crockett, president of Capt’n Eli’s Soda in Portland and a state representative, tells a powerful story of love and family, struggle and redemption. 

There were certainly no guarantees his life would turn out well. At many times he could have made self-destructive decisions that could not have been reversed. Yet he made it.

“I’ve been blessed," he said. 

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